On 12 December, Imran Khan directed PTI’s leaders to “step up” their political plans of action in their constituencies to work as if the “election campaign has begun” in the country. In a meeting with parliamentarians from the Rawalpindi division, Imran Khan requested his party to stage protest rallies to “win” the support of the public and continue to coerce the government into announcing early polls in the country. This comes as Imran Khan announced the dissolution of provincial assemblies and demanded the government fulfil their demands for fresh elections. In the meeting, Imran Khan “floated” the idea of the dissolution of the Punjab assembly first, following the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly in the later stage, and also laid the decision would see its fate only after the leaders contest rallies to “woo” the voters.
Further, Imran Khan said that he convened with the PML-Q on the PTI “sticking” to power in the two assemblies until it is assured of early elections and that the party should appear before the National Assembly to verify their resignations from the two assemblies. Following the parliamentary meeting, Imran Khan warned that the “negative trajectory” of Pakistan’s economy would affect the state and the institutions, that the only way to prevent this from happening is to hold early polls and that the economy depends “solely on the political stability in the country.” He pushed the business community, industrialists, and exporters to “raise” their voices and said that they would be “equally responsible” for the country’s regression towards default. He said that he would not invest in the country if he doesn’t foresee stability in the next three to five years and that he would “stock up on dollars” to secure his finances.
What did the government say?
On 12 December, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif discarded the possibility of having an informed political dialogue with Imran and reiterated that negotiations could not be brought about with a “self-centred, liar, anti-benefactor” person. PM Shehbaz, along with Finance Minister Ishaq categorically condemned the PTI’s demand for snap polls and said that the public would decide on the date of the elections and “who was right and who was wrong,” on the matter. This comes as PM Shehbaz had requested Dar to meet President Arif Avi and the government’s desire to hold talks with Imran Khan and said that Imran Khan “can hurt the nation for his own benefit” and that “it takes two to tango” to decide on snap polls and the implications that would leave for the country.
PM Shehbaz emphasised that the government has not intended for their “political asset” to be at stake “just for snap polls” and that stabilising the economy remains the highest priority of the country. He mentioned that the PTI government had “ridiculed” the PDM’s idea of a Charter of Economy and had misled the requirement as a regular ordinance type of agreement.
Responding to Imran Khan’s claims of the country regressing into a default, PM Shehbaz dismissed the claim and said that the country “would never” default economically and that the PTI is “intentionally selling” the rhetoric to “defame” the government and the country’s capabilities. He said that “fake news” is being spread by Imran Khan and that the previous PTI government had “destroyed” the economy in its term because of Imran Khan’s inconsistent commitments to international financial institutions. (Mansoor Malik, “Imran tells party leaders to remain in ‘election mode’,” Dawn, 13 December 2022, Syed Irfan Raza, “Can’t sit for talks with ‘egoistic’ Imran: PM,” Dawn, 13 December 2022)